Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Katie & the Cosmic Pandas’ Voyage Under the Sea

Katie and the Cosmic Pandas' Deep Sea Voyage (Katie's Magic Teapot)
click to buy kindle
edition from Amazon
This picture book for young children, Katie and the Cosmic Pandas’ Deep Sea Voyage, follows my first story, Katie’s Magic Teapot and the Cosmic Pandas, where Katie and her friends explore the oceans to meet some very odd creatures indeed. I wrote and illustrated this children’s educational book to create a book I would have liked as a young child.

Educational Book for Kids on the Oceans

The book is brimming with full colour illustrations, all of which are completed in oils. I wanted to create a visual feast that not only diverts the child, but educates. What better way than juxtaposing a magic teapot, colourful pandas and a young girl against the weird creatures of our oceans?

Katie and the Cosmic Pandas' Deep Sea Voyage
Rachel Shirley

The image above represents a sample of the first few pages of the kindle book and the paperback. The journey starts one day as Katie enjoys her day out at the seaside. She takes her teapot with her, having already enjoyed a previous adventure exploring the cosmos as the teapot had taken flight. The story begins as follows:

Katie has a secret. Mummy’s teapot is no ordinary teapot. Not only has its spout poured rivers of tea, the teapot can also fly.
   One day, Katie took the teapot with her to the seaside. Shells and teapots were alike, she noticed. Both were hollow and made a ‘chink’ sound when you tapped them. If you held a shell to your ear, a hushing sound like the sea could be heard.
   Katie held the teapot to her ear and listened through the spout. A voice piped, ‘we’re at the seaside! We’re at the seaside!’
   Katie’s friends the Cosmic Pandas had appeared on the china and they were popping out onto the sand! ‘Oh, joy what a glorious day!’ They danced and leapt about. ‘Come on, chop, chop!’ Greenpatch rallied, ‘time and tide waits for no panda!’ The five of them leapt inside.
   ‘Where are we going?’ Redpatch asked.’
   Katie giggled. ‘Let’s see the sea.’
   ‘The sea? quizzed Redpatch.
   ‘We might find pirate ships in its watery depths,’ Silverpatch crooned.
   ‘And treasure!’ Goldpatch chirped.’
  ‘I want to find something for mummy and daddy,’ Katie announced climbing in.
   And with that, the teapot took off for the sea. ‘Whoa!’ they cried.

A Unique Book for Kids

Katie's Magic Teapot in the Coral Reef
Katie and the pandas dive deep under water to encounter a school of fish, a manta ray, dolphins, a coral reef, penguins, a turtle and delve deeper still to discover an array of weird glowing creatures. But do they find treasure? Well, not as you’d expect.

This great kid’s book educates youngsters about the creatures of our oceans, via colourful illustration and a play on words. It has taken me around three months to paint the detail on the original images, all of which measure 15x12in (the double images were 15x24in). A creative but exhausting experience, I am certain it has been worth the effort. Screenshots of the print version’s pages serve to inform on the look of my picture book’s interior.

Book’s Vital Statistics

Katie and the Cosmic Pandas Journey to the Ocean Floor
My book is available both as a print copy and on Kindle. The hardcopy is a standard picture book size, being 32 pages long, around 1000 word and measures 8x10in. Colourful detailed images ensure young kids remain captivated by the story and urge a curiosity to find out what awaits on the next page.

I have published Katie's Magic Teapot Omnibus Edition, of both stories Katie's Magic Teapot & the Cosmic Pandas, and Katie & the Cosmic Pandas' Deep Sea Voyage, making this a little cheapter than purchasing the 2 stories separately. Ben's Little Big Adventure book might be alternative for boys.

Links to my other sites

Other books by Rachel Shirley

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Picture Book for Boys Ben’s Little Big Adventure

My illustrated learning book for toddler boys follows Ben’s adventure as he tries to negotiate himself through the house for a midnight snack. This is because he has shrunk in the night and compares the obstacles he faces with the great wonders of the world.

Boy’s Children’s Book

Ben's Little Big Adventure
Click to buy kindle
edition from Amazon
Ben loves what he calls ‘magic machines,’ such as gliders, motorbikes, trains and cars. With each obstacle he faces, he wishes for a particular machine that will help him inch his way closer to his quest. Faced with the prospect of climbing down the edge of his bed, which incidentally he compares to the White Cliffs of Dover, Ben wishes for a glider in which to gloat gently to the ground. Of course, one is not at hand, so Ben slides down the pole of a bedside lamp instead. And so each obstacle is met and overcome in the same fashion. But will Ben reach his prized snack?

Preview of my Children's Picture Book

Picture book for boys' Ben's Little Big Adventure
Rachel Shirley

The images above show a preview of the pages that can be found within the print version of my book as well as the Kindle version. Ben's story opens as follows:

Everyone knew about Ben’s fad. In fact, Christmases and birthdays were filled with the same gifts: toy models that in real life could travel further and faster than Ben ever could. Ben thought they were magic for their engines could do the impossible: cars that could break the sound barrier, boats that could traverse the oceans and other great wonders like planes, steamboats, lorries rockets and trains.
   Not forgetting motorbikes, airships, gliders, fire engines, liners, cranes, tanks, trucks and shuttles. Oh, yes, and helicopters as well.
   How Ben loved these magic machines with their wondrous engines. He imagined flying in them, diving in them, scooting in them and floating in them. But if only they were real…
   Ben played with his toy models all afternoon. He’d aquaplaned over the Everglades, go-karted across the Sahara and quad-biked over the Prairies. He’d even drifted over the icecaps.
But no adventure would be fun on an empty stomach and Ben’s needed a snack. There was only one problem: his bed seemed to have grown.
   And his lamp.
   His shelves too.
   In fact everything, Ted and all.

Adventure Book for Young Boys

As with my other illustrated children’s books, I conceived the story starting with the images. I love experimenting with new visual ideas, in this case, illustrating a small boy sliding down a lamp pole, hitching a ride on a cat or rowing across the sinkwater in orange peel. All my illustrations have been completed in oils, entailing lots of setting up, taking of photographs and painting detail. Hard work but enjoyable on my part.

Colourful Books for Boys

Illustration from Ben's Little Big Adventure
My book is brimming with colour illustrations and a feast of detail and hues for the eye, the sort of picture book I would have liked myself. Screenshots of the interior as shown on this post serves to give an idea of the look of the book. My personal favourite illustrations are Ben rolling down the stairs cushioned by a teddy bear and climbing the shelves. References to the Great Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the Everglades have been referred to.

Book Details on Ben’s Little Big Adventure

The print version of the book is 8x10in in size, 32 pages and around 1000 words long. There are three double-paged images and countless illustrations besides. Kindle version is also available, which will prove a little cheaper. The kindle version requires a different kind of format but the elements are the same.

Other Children’s Books by Rachel Shirley

Ben's Little Big Adventure Book
I have written two other picture books entitled Katie’s Magic Teapot and the Cosmic Pandas and its sequel Katie and the Pandas’ Deep Sea Voyage. Both describe a young girl’s adventure flying in her magic teapot to explore the cosmos, and then the oceans respectively. Katie's Magic Teapot omnibus edition is also available. Details on these books can be found on this blog. Like Ben’s Little Big Adventure, all the Katie books are available on print format and on Kindle.

Links to my Art sites

More books by Rachel Shirley
Katie's Magic Teapot & the Cosmic Pandas
Oil painting demonstrations
Advice about art materials
Link to gift ideas for kids

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Katie’s Magic Teapot & the Cosmic Pandas Picture Book

An educational picture book for children with colour images completed in oils, Katie’s Magic Teapot and the Cosmic Pandas takes the reader into a journey through the universe to discover planets, moons, galaxies and other oddities within our cosmos. The journey takes place rather bizarrely within a magic teapot. This story's sequel, Katie & the Cosmic Pandas' Deep Sea Voyage takes them under the sea.

Idea for Katie’s Magic Teapot

Katie's Magic Teapot & the Cosmic Pandas
Click to buy kindle
edition from Amazon
The idea started with the images, and the story followed suit. I kept thinking how compelling the sight of a flying teapot throughout the cosmos would be, the sort of picture book I would have liked when I was a child.

I have always loved poring over images of the cosmos, where few images compel like the planets Jupiter, Saturn and nebulae. This offered me lots of opportunities to explore painting techniques, using bright colours and interesting compositions. One of my favourite paintings is of a time-lapse image of Katie and the pandas floating through space, in all, featuring eight teapots (see image further down).

Preview of Katie's Adventure

Katie's Magic Teapot and the Cosmic Pandas
Rachel Shirley

The image above shows a preview of some of the pictures that can be found within this children's book. The story begins thus:

Katie loved her mummy’s teapot. Her mummy told Katie that it was older than Gran and Gran was very old – and yet the painted flowers had hardly faded at all. Katie thought this odd, but then, there was something very odd about Mummy’s teapot.
One day, Katie’s mummy took the teapot from the shelf for a clean. Katie sat and watched.
‘Mummy,’ Katie quizzed, ‘how many cups of tea have been poured from our teapot?’
Mummy chuckled. ‘Probably enough to fill that big pond at the back of your gran’s house!’
Katie chuckled too. This made her think of a huge teapot. Imagine that!
Katie pictured her family and friends gathering outside. The town crier would ring his bell and announce Katie’s momentous tea-party!
When Katie opened her eyes, she found to her astonishment that the teapot had indeed grown and she was sitting inside.
The teapot began to float. It floated from the table, across the living room and up the chimney.

Katie could never have imagined how high the teapot could go, meeting her friends the cosmic pandas along the way. She encounters the moon, Mars, stars, galaxies and more. Each encounter is accompanied by colour illustrations, making this book a visual feast for young learners. I wanted Katie’s journey to be as informative as an enjoyable read.

Art Technique for Children’s Illustrations

I wrote and illustrated the story over a period of about four months, working intensively upon the paintings. I worked oil on panel of sizes 15x12in for single images, or 24x15in for double paged images. I took lots of photographs of the child subject matter, as children have a habit of moving around.

Illustrations to Katie's Magic Teapot & the Cosmic Pandas
I used an awful lot of black, as you might imagine, but this set the stage for using bright colours on top. I worked on the most detailed parts first when I was feeling most up to it, such as the girl’s face and the detail around the pandas and teapot. Lots of different art techniques were used for effects, including glazing. Glazing entails the application of thin layers of paint, allowing each to dry between. This creates smooth effects for the gradated effects in skies and auras around the planets.

I also smudged the paint via a rag over selected areas to emulate nebula clouds. Only the tiniest amount of paint should be used, and smudged thinly. Once dry, a little more can be added to selected areas to give the clouds more form. Smudging via a rag (or even fingers) was used to get the smooth effects for the rainbow.

A Colourful Educational Book for Kids
Impasto technique was used in small amounts around the planets and the galaxies. This entails applying thicker layers of paint for opaque colours. Oil pigments were often used neat from the tube, such as the red spot on Jupiter and the flowers on the teapot.

Katie’s Teapot Series

The picture book was hard but enjoyable work, so I decided to write a sequel: Katie and the Cosmic Pandas’ Deep Sea Voyage, which describes Katie’s voyage of discovery beneath the oceans. Both these books are 32 pages, roughly 1000 words long and are 8x10in in size. Both books are available on Kindle and as a printed version from Amazon..

A Great Learning Book for Kids

Katie's Magic Teapot: Rachel Shirley
Screenshots on this blog serve to give you an idea of what the interior looks like. Formatting the images and the text just the way I wanted took almost as long as writing the book. This required trying out different fonts, background colours and making sure the elements on each page are balanced correctly, taking into account the page bleeds.

I have recently published Katie's Magic Teapot Omnibus Edition, which works out a little cheaper than purchasing the 2 stories.separately. Alternatively, Ben's Little Big Adventure might be an alternative book for young boys.

My other Art websites

Other books by Rachel Shirley